Thresholds CEO Mark Ishaug Remarks at Annual Gala

Thresholds Annual Gala
Remarks from Mark Ishaug, CEO
Union League Club of Chicago
May 28, 2014

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Award Recipients at Thresholds Annual Gala pose with CEO Mark Ishaug and Board Chair Jana Barbe.

Welcome everyone to our first-ever downtown gala. Wow. Thanks to our fabulous gala chairs Mary Jo Herseth, Anne Marie Morley, and Frank Haywood. Last year 240 guests, this year 410. You done good, real good!

Thanks to our fabulous presenting sponsor Roxanne and Rocco Martino. Your kindness and generosity are boundless.

Thanks to our Platinum Sponsors BMO Harris Bank, the Rebecca Susan Buffett Foundation, and Jim and Karen Frank. Our Gold Sponsors Liz Ellrod and Scott Schweighauser, Vicki and Tom Horwich, Lundbeck and Norwood Drugs. Our Silver Sponsors Cigna-HealthSpring, Marianne and Michael Doan, Mary Jo and Stephen Herseth, Dick Lowenthal, and MB Financial Bank, and our many other spectacular sponsors listed in your program book.

For 55 years, Thresholds has provided home, health, and hope to thousands of people with mental illnesses.

From moms to marines.

From toddlers to teens.

From those without a home to those warehoused in jails and other institutions.

Thresholds is a champion for change!

We are laser-focused on helping our members reach for and achieve recovery.

Our research studies are bridging the digital divide so those with disabilities will benefit directly from new technologies.

Our employment programs help hundreds each year find and maintain jobs they want in competitive, integrated settings.

Our advocacy in Springfield and Washington, DC ensures that those will mental illnesses are not second-class citizens.

Our care, both psychiatric and medical, improves health outcomes AND saves money.

And our housing is the bedrock upon which health and hope can and do happen.

And none of this, none of this, would happen without you.

The best board I have ever worked with.

The best staff with the biggest brains and biggest hearts imaginable. You are giraffes!

The best donors, and patrons and community partners possible.

It is awesome to be on this mission with you!

All boats rise, and all clients will succeed, when we row together. And man do we do row, fast and furious.

And tonight, while we thank each and every one of you, we single out five individuals and organizations who have made our Veterans Project possible.

To date, nearly 2.5 million men and women have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. For many of them, the return home is fraught with peril and

  • 1 in 4 has sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder
  • 1 in 3 struggles with substance abuse
  • 1 in 5 is unemployed
  • 1 out of 3 homeless persons in America is a veteran

Only 1 out of ten vets is served by government programs, including the VA—and you know the challenges facing the VA!

And 22—twenty-two—veterans commit suicide every day.

Thresholds is changing this story.

We have created the most comprehensive community-based counseling, housing, and employment program for veterans in Illinois, perhaps in the country, thanks to the superstars you are about to meet.

I will lead off with the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Because this is where it all started. Without the McCormick Foundation, there would be no Veterans Project, and we wouldn’t have served more than 1000 vets challenged by PTSD, homelessness, and unemployment. McCormick’s seed funding and ongoing support, and their linkages to area employers and academic institutions, have created home, health and hope for our heroes.

Accepting the award this evening is CEO David Hiller.

As the first corporate sponsor of the Veterans Project, The Boeing Company blazed the trail for others in the Chicago community to follow. Their support and advocacy has attracted some of the biggest names in business and philanthropy to Thresholds and to our work with vets. We are deeply, deeply grateful.

Accepting the award for The Boeing Company is William Edwards, Strategy Integration Specialist, Global Corporate Citizenship.

Thanks to the VNA Foundation and a very generous 3-year grant, Thresholds launched the Women Veterans Health Initiative last summer. Our evidence-based programs, provided for and by women veterans, help women address the many wounds of war, including military sexual trauma, and assists them and often their children in finding safe, affordable housing and other opportunities for recovery and reintegration.

Accepting the award for The VNA Foundation is Executive Director Rob DeLeonardi.

Without individual private donations, none of our cutting edge, innovative programs would be possible. And for more than 35 years, former board member and now lifetime trustee Roger Brown has never said no to Thresholds. And more important, no one ever says no to Roger Brown!

In a not-so-subtle challenge to his fellow board members in 2010, Roger was the first to step up to the plate, and then tell his board colleagues, “It’s

hard to say no to the vets!” I repeat, “It’s hard to say no to the vets!” Thank you Roger for not taking no for an answer. And for making the impossible

Ladies and gentlemen, Roger Brown.

And last, but certainly not least, Mrs. Florence Hart. For more than 50 years, Mrs. Hart has served on the Thresholds board of directors. She has opened her heart, her soul, and yes, her wallet to support our research, employment, advocacy, care, and housing projects. She was the first to not say no to Roger and she was the first individual donor to the Women Veterans Health Initiative. In fact, she was the first for just about everything at Thresholds. She and that Mr. Brown. What a dynamic duo.

Please welcome, the best of the best, Mrs. Florence Hart.

Please give another round of applause for our award recipients.

It is now my pleasure to introduce our keynote speaker, Colonel David Sutherland. Now retired after 29 years in the U.S. Army, Colonel Sutherland was the Brigade Commander in Iraq during some of that conflict’s heaviest fighting. Following his distinguished service in Iraq, he became the Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he championed service members, our veterans, their families and the families of the fallen. In his civilian life, Colonel Sutherland co-founded and serves as chairman of Easter Seals Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services in Alexandria, Virginia. Colonel Sutherland is a vocal, national advocate and leader for transformational change.

Please give it up for a national hero and a national treasure, Colonel David W. Sutherland.

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